Although work is very important to us, we should not forget that we have our family who need our attention. We live because we have jobs. We earn because of the work that we do and our earnings can help us get the material things we need. We can buy our basic needs like food and clothes. Sometimes, when we perform well in the workplace, we are recognized and some even are promoted to higher positions. However, by trying to accomplish all of the responsibilities that our work calls for us, we forget our obligations to our families. We are so obsessed at making other people appreciate us within our jobs—we try to impress others by helping them and extending support to them. Because of this, sometimes we no longer have time for our own family. Of course; we don’t want to lose them, but this could be possible if we don’t change things around.

I had a very serious and rather emotional conversation with Marion, who is my co-teacher, after having finished our lunch one day. We took our lunch in a carinderia about 500 meters away from the school. It is one of our favorite places to stay during lunch-break because aside from the fresh air we breathe under the trees in front of the store, we have privacy from other people. Students would not see us eat and we can eat in any way we want, like the “carinderia” is our home.

We always talk about specific things mostly about government, schools, our achievements, our failure, sometimes about love and sexuality, which always leads to a debate. There are times we seem to fight because we cannot accept each other’s ideas and viewpoints about certain issues.

During that day with my co-teacher, we came to talk about a topic which we do not know how it started—I could hardly recall why we got to that issue. I made mention about how I behave at home. Usually, when I get home from work, I proceed immediately to my bedroom and close the door. No hello, hi or anything to my family and when they knock on my door, I get disturbed. When they talk to me, I always answer them in a high pitch in which I can no longer talk to them in a normal and nice manner. I often get irritated when they talk to me while I am busy doing some stuff inside my room. Usually I’m in front of my laptop, or sometimes busy with my cell phone and at other times; reading books. I leave my room to eat when I’m feeling really hungry, and that’s when everyone are asleep. After that, I take a shower and go to sleep.

Marion said he could relate because sometimes he also does the same. He spoke about some of his experiences and I enjoyed listening to him. He recalled a time when he was still young until he graduated from college and got his first job. He said everything also changed.

I could feel a burst deep within me and my eyes began to wet. I know that when I could not control my emotion, tears would come out. However, I did not want him to see me cry so I tried my best to keep the tears from coming out of my eyes. I looked away from him for several minutes as I continued sharing with him my thoughts.

I do not recognize my childhood playmates anymore. Since the first time I went to college, and up to now that I have worked for seven years, we do not see each other. Time had separated us and we’ve become strangers to each other. We no longer talk, even if were to meet on the road. The people I am seeing now are no longer the people I used to play with when I was very young.

I remember the old years when we used to play patintero, tumbang preso and other games which are usually played by children of lower class. The days when we went to the farms and stole santol, mango, kaymito and langka. If the owner were to see us, he would chase us, but we were too swift and managed to escape. We climbed mountains, we bathe in rivers and we rode our carabao’s. The happy moments in the jungle while we were hunting wild chickens and sometimes when we were lucky enough, we could catch wild pigs. The times we climbed down the mountains carrying with us on the top of our heads sac’s of bananas or sometimes, vegetables or a pile of woods that we used for cooking. Then during the nights we would play under the brilliant shining moon. Those moments are still fresh on my mind but they just stay memories forever because I can no longer go back to the past.

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Marion was very attentive while I was telling him all these things.

I am totally unaware of the things that are happening with my neighbors. Sometimes, I am just shocked to know that someone has died or that one has gotten married. I learn about all sort’s of news after several months or even years. I was not even aware that my niece got pregnant. I just found out after she labored two weeks ago.

Absurd? Yes Indeed, but this is the reality. Who could understand me, Marion or the other teachers? I do not know, but for me I have my own reasons which I think other teachers like Marion have experienced already, and some others will perhaps experience in the future.

Working in the school is really exhausting, yet enjoyable—I wake up with enthusiasm. I’m prepared with the lessons that I be discussing with the class and I make my students laugh. We enjoy every discussion that we have.

Everyday is a challenge. There always seem to arise a problem, and being the teacher and adviser, I have to solve every problem that arises, from petty things to rather complicated problems like naughty students who misbehave during discussion time.

The student who complains because his classmate hid his bag, a student cries because his seatmate poked him with his ball-pen. Some students cannot stay in one place. Others are talking about the latest happenings in a TV series they’ve been watching, while some others are drawing on their notebooks an image of their favorite anime. There are those who are doing their assignments in Biology while they are in an English class. Then, suddenly one student shouts because his classmates took all his pad paper during a quiz. A lone student in the back row is looking at the ceiling like he is thinking about the meal he is going to eat when he get’s home, while one is complaining that his stomach is aching because he did not eat breakfast. I go with him to the office or to the clinic and when I go back to the classroom; there is a disaster. The students run back to their chairs. One student stumbles because his classmate accidentally stepped on his foot. Papers are scattered around the room. The curtains fall from the windows. The teacher in the other room is complaining because he is having his class.

I begin to make my homily. The students seem to listen and absorb every word of wisdom that comes from my mouth. They are very quiet as they listen to the sermon. I ask them not to do the same things again, and they would say YES. Yes here, Yes there. But after a few minutes, everything is oblivion. They act like nothing has happened; again.

This is a typical day in school. It seems like it’s an obligation to solve all their problems even if they are personal and family problems; cases of juvenile delinquency, stealing, alcoholism, and pregnancy. These problems are very hard to solve and they are rather sensitive. But again, as teacher and adviser, and a second parent to our students, I cannot excuse myself from it.

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With these predicaments that I experience in the school, do I still have the time to solve my own personal problems? Do I still have the chance to think about my own family’s needs? No more! That is why I look for serenity, for peace of mind every-time I get home from school. As long as possible, I don’t want to think about the problems in the house anymore. I don’t want to be aware that we have no more rice to cook, no more coffee and sugar in the cabinet. I don’t want to know that our electric and water supply will be cut off because we have not paid our bill for three months. I don’t want to think anymore about what happened in the house while I was away.

I need complete rest after working in the school, after having worked with extra loads. After not having a favorable day with my fellow teachers. After having a long drive going to the school and coming back home under the blistering heat of the sun and sometimes, a midst a horrible thunderstorm.

However, as I try to ignore these problems, they become more serious and graver. I know that if I cannot bring back the way I used to be with my family when I was still young, living a very simple life, my relationship with them is in great danger. But how could I divide my time between my family and my students, between home and school?… I feel like I’m between the devil and a deep blue sea. I don’t know where my life leads to. But one thing I am sure about; I love both my family and my students. But there is a proverb that says, “You cannot serve two masters at a time.”

We have to spend time with our family as well. 

The time we spend at work should equate the time we have for our family. Weekends are the best times to be with them. There are many things that we can do on Saturday’s and Sunday’s. Take our family to the parks or malls, watch movies with them, play with our little brothers and sisters or perhaps organize a small party. Though it is not normal, and perhaps it sounds awkward to others, playing with little kids can help us. When I go to other places and see kids, I play with them. Even if the games are obviously for toddlers, it still gives a feeling of rejuvenation. Playing with kids help’s me to forget the problems for a while, and it makes me think better and wiser later.

If the financial aspect is a problem, we can watch movies inside the house with our family members. There are a lot of films with themes about family. This will help us build a stronger relationship with our parents and siblings. Set aside the school related works. We have to think of activities that we enjoy doing without spending too much.

There is always a time for everything. Before we go to work, we have to leave any problems at the house. Likewise, when we come back home we should not carry with us the problems that we have in our schools or offices.

Sometimes, the problem with us teachers is we do not manage our time wisely. We always tend to bring home the works that we have to finish or carry out in the school and we work overnight. This habit can create gaps between family members especially to those married teachers.

Spend at least 10-20 minutes of our time with neighbors when we arrive home. Maintaining a harmonious and healthy relationship with our neighbors is very significant. We do not know when we need them. The school environment is a lot different from the environment that surrounds our homes. Talking to neighbors will help us become closer to them. Aside from our family, our neighbors are the most immediate persons that we can seek for help in times of needs.

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